Control News from Europe January 2008

Andrew Bond Reports from Europe

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Rockwell sees it as a convergent world

Convergence between IT and manufacturing and between process and discrete applications seems to have been the underlying theme of last month’s Rockwell Automation Fair. Newly released at the event were the results of a study showing that, across a broad cross-section of manufacturing, companies which are progressing towards converging their IT and controls engineering organizations are enjoying major benefits in terms of higher efficiency, increased reliability, shorter project timelines and better business continuity. Analysis of the responses of more than 300 control engineers and IT/IS professionals revealed that more integration between IT and control resulted in less conflict and more optimism about the future of convergence. “These findings confirm many of the performance advantages that we had long suspected come from stronger collaboration between IT and controls departments, and we’ve uncovered a few new ones as well,” said Rockwell vice president of software Kevin Roach.

Management involvement

Echoing the views of speakers and delegates at the recent IET MES seminar in the U.K., the study identified management involvement as the key driver of convergence. 90 % of respondents in more integrated companies described their senior management as promoting change” or being “somewhat involved,” while 40% of respondents in companies where IT and control engineering were less integrated described senior management as “uninvolved in driving change.”

Perhaps surprisingly, those with IT/IS responsibilities tended to see more advantage in convergence and to be more aggressive in pursuing it. 67% of IT respondents, but only 39% of controls engineers, believed that convergence offered more advantages than disadvantages.

Initiatives where convergence is showing the most impact include information and Internet protocol availability and security; lean manufacturing or lean enterprise; real-time manufacturing; and total quality programs such as Six Sigma. More surprising benefits revealed include improved security; improved visibility across multiple plants; improved disaster recovery; and reduced system complexity due to improved designs. “Just as manufacturers realize the strategic importance of integrated information, many are now beginning to realize the need to create an integrated environment where plant-floor and IT functions are managed in a collaborative, synchronized manner,” said Roach. “This converged framework allows teams to better collaborate to assess current manufacturing and IT systems, and begin to set standards for integration, data management and future technology investments.”

Convergence, this time between process and discrete, was also suggested as the rationale underlying Rockwell’s Pavilion Technologies and ICS Triplex acquisitions and its ongoing partnership with Endress + Hauser. “Rockwell Automation is focused on closing the gap between discrete and process control applications to provide truly integrated plant-wide control,” explained process automation director Kevin Zaba. “Through new products, key partnerships and acquisitions, we are helping manufacturers leverage the efficiencies, cost-savings and reliability of a single unified control platform – from process control to high-speed packaging to coordinated drive systems.”

Recent introductions highlighted included FactoryTalk Historian SE, based on technology licensed from OSIsoft, and the latest extension to the ControlLogix family, the L64 Programmable Automation Controller (PAC). With twice the memory of any previous ControlLogix controller, the PAC supports the centralization of applications such as alarming which were traditionally shared with external devices like HMIs and the handling of large process control applications with thousands of I/O.



Cyber security pioneer recruits SCADA expertise

Cyber security pioneer Industrial Defender (still Verano to most of us) reckons it’s pulled off something of a coup in recruiting Donald Simoneau to fill the newly created post of senior vice president of worldwide operations, reporting to CEO Brian Ahern. Simoneau’s appointment is said to be part of a global expansion plan to address growing worldwide demand for cyber security technology and services in response to the perceived threat to critical infrastructure in the electricity, oil and gas, transportation, water and chemical industries. He will be based at Industrial Defender’s Mansfield, Mass., headquarters and will oversee a newly created North American and International field operations organization. At the same time Jonathan Pollet has been appointed vice president of North American field operations, and Dan Davis vice president of international field operations, while a new Singapore sales office has been established with Peter Lee as business development manager for the Asia-Pacific region.

Simoneau began his career in the technical workstation business with Apollo Computer and HP before becoming CFO of SCADA vendor Intellution. More recently he was CEO of Longwatch, a start-up involving a number of the original Intellution team, which has developed technology to enable security video surveillance of remote sites, particularly in the water industry, to be incorporated into conventional SCADA. At Longwatch, Simoneau’s responsibilities included raising venture capital, establishing company operations, building the brand and instituting a North American distribution channel. His successor as president and CEO is Intellution founder and former president Steve Rubin. “In recent years, the frequency and sophistication of cyber security attacks on global critical infrastructure has greatly increased,” commented Industrial Defender president and CEO Brian Ahern. “Don’s extensive knowledge of industrial and global markets and Peter’s unique perspective on Asian business adds critical expertise in our ability to address mounting cyber security threats across the globe.”

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